Despite efforts over time, racism is a difficult poison to root out of the United States.
Over the past four years, and under the unqualified Trump administration, the country seems more divided than ever. It is as if we live in an era where a break with political correctness makes racism a matter of debate and where race or skin color is once again a sufficient argument for discrimination.
Today, just days away from a new administration in the White House, and as we celebrate a national holiday, we cannot help but wonder: What would Martin Luther King say?
The metaphor of history as a river does not seem to apply to the United States. After the historic struggle for human rights led by Dr. King, the country seems just as divided — even after the assassination of the civil rights leader by a white man, and even after Robert F. Kennedy called the country out “to do better.”
“What we need in the United States is not division,” the charming president said in a statement after Dr. King’s death. “What we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.”
Yet, decades later, and after the protests over George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement, it seems we are still fighting the same thousand-headed monster.
But for all the negative and racist evidence we have lived through, we also have thrived into important steps towards the right direction that matters. For instance, the historic win of John Lewis’ — Dr. King’s close colleague and part of his “inner circle” — long-time represented Clayton County during our last election.
“According to data by Georgia’s secretary of state, with 99 percent of expected votes counted in Clayton, which is within Lewis’s longtime congressional district, Biden got 94,365 votes — nearly 85 percent of the total — to Trump’s 15,671,” the Washington Post reported. A historical sweep Dr. King would be proud of, especially his dear friend’s influence and dedication. Undoubtedly, their building blocks and force will create more impact in the years to come.
As far as his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” goes, are any of his visions true? Close to being real?
This was only in 1963, a time not so distant if we are objective. That’s when The Beatles became a thing; when the Beach Boys, The Kinks, The Velvet Underground, and The Doors were blasting in radios, and we still have them on our favorite playlists.
To put it in context, many of us think Dr. King was forever ago, and yet the Beatles were only yesterday. We think of these happenings in separate dimensions rather than events from political and pop culture that were happening simultaneously.
As I read over history: you’re telling me that while The Doors were touring, we were still having problems with people of color using restrooms designated for only white people? Many of our “idols” that created 1960’s music (ahem, Paul McCartney of The Beatles, etc.) are still very much alive right now, so you’re telling me they could’ve witnessed in their concerts this type of segregation? You know, we could even see Sir McCartney IRL these days if there wasn’t a pandemic going on. How’s that for context?
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” Dr. King famously said, and, in my opinion, that’s a dream still to be fulfilled.
We are still judged simply by our skin color before we even get to speak. I remember studying this in 5th grade, and yet here I am, almost thirty years old, re-reading these passages, realizing that, while a lot has changed, not much is being practiced in life outside the book page.
As a Latina, I see that judgment that unfairly takes on our character content based solely on our skin color. And if you don’t believe me, just take a look at the thousands of pictures of migrant children in cages.
“With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day,” Dr. King continued, in a particular excerpt that remains true and strong today, and that will continue to remain our key to move forward.
A lot is going on, but overall, I think Dr. King would keep his spirit strong and remain fighting, as most of us today continue to do so. With all the pain in our current state of the country, we must remind ourselves of the wins and the shifts that we have won and are pushing for.
As for today, we can take a sigh of relief knowing that the next four years will not be in the hands of a racist TV celebrity, but rather in the hands of someone that has the interest in helping some all Americans, without distinction of race, creed or skin color.
And for that, today, I believe we can still have faith.